RJ Barrett's Toronto homecoming didn't go the way he may have hoped, as the Knicks fell to the Raptors 126-98 on Wednesday, but there's plenty the rookie can learn from his return to his hometown.
As a team, the Knicks played consistent, team basketball in the first quarter, leading by as many as 10 points and taking a 29-21 lead into the first quarter break.
But the Raptors answered back, as reigning NBA Champions tend to do, outscoring the Knicks 105-69 over the final three quarters, led by 31 points from Pascal Siakam.
Barrett said after the game that there's a lot he can take away from playing against a Championship team like the Raptors.
"They're tough. First unit, second unit, third unit, they all play the same way," Barrett told reporters after the game. "They play tough, with great, and everybody moves the ball and shares the ball. They don't care who scores. It was good to go up against a team like that.
"They played hard the whole game."
For the third overall pick, Wednesday's game was his first return to his hometown of Toronto since becoming an NBA player last June.
While he struggled with his shot, he still managed to score 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting, while also adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals while playing in front of friends and family.
Earlier in the day, Barrett also announced his commitment to play with Team Canada in the 2020 Olympics. Admittedly, Barrett had some trouble keeping his emotions in check leading into the game.
"I had way too many emotions. I was so happy all day," Barrett said. "Like, literally the whole time before the game I was trying to calm myself down for like two hours. It was great to be back in Toronto.
"It was great. I said I was going to have fun and try my best out there, Hopefully I get to play here again many times."
Collectively, the Knicks failed to match up with Toronto's intensity over the final three quarters, resulting in the team's fourth straight loss.
With Wednesday's defeat, the Knicks drop to just 4-14 on the season, tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
Losing isn't something that Barrett, a former star at Duke, is very accustomed to, but he's still doing everything that he can to help the Knicks get back to where they want to be as a team.
"I'm playing basketball. That's the light that I see," Barrett said of the Knicks' rough start. "I get to play basketball every single day. I just come in, put my hard hat on, and do everything I can to help the team every day."